As the hospitality industry struggles to mitigate the massive loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of hotel owners are filing lawsuits to force their property insurance providers to cover their financial casualties.
Meantime, state and federal lawmakers are considering legislation that would mandate U.S. insurance companies pay for business losses related to COVID-19.
Such a payout could surpass $600 billion, reported Best’s Insurance in May.
American Property Casualty Insurance Association, a trade group, puts the payouts even higher. In June, the association reportedly estimated payouts to would cost insurers $255 billion to $431 billion a month.
The amounts are not sustainable and would ultimately make many insurers insolvent, say insurance industry experts.
Hotel owners say they deserve payouts because they’ve paid premiums for years to cover high-loss scenarios such as the one they’re facing now.
In almost every case, insurers are refusing to pay, saying policies exclude losses caused by a viral plague or COVID-19 has not caused any physical damage to hotel properties that result in a stoppage of business.
It’s fixing to be an epic battle.
In this episode of Lodging Leaders, we examine the issue of business interruption insurance for hotels negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
We feature Sanjay Patel, CEO of MHG Hotels in Indianapolis who has filed a lawsuit against his insurance provider; Robert Zarco, a partner at the law firm Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito in Miami who specializes in litigating business interruption insurance claims on behalf of business owners; Gregory Riehle, a lawyer and hospitality consultant and former CEO of the Resort Hotel Association, a hotel insurance group; and Robert Hartwig, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor and director of finance at the Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business who’s co-authored a white paper about the un-insurability of businesses affected by viral pandemics.
Resources and Links
Lodging Econometrics has tracked the hotel industry since 1998. Its global database includes new-hotel pipelines as well as renovations and brand conversions. Hotel franchisers once eager to launch new brands are focused on converting existing hotels because it’s a faster way to recover revenue lost to the COVID-19 pandemic than through new construction. In Episode 346, Lodging Leaders explores the increasing number of conversions in the U.S. hotel industry and what owners and operators need to consider before repositioning an asset.
In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., financiers anticipated a swell of distressed hotel businesses. Some raised rescue funds to respond to what they thought was a pending crisis. Though there are financial rescues taking place, the level of such activity is far below what industry advisers and fund managers expected. Commercial real estate investors positioned to act in the early days of the pandemic held off and are now just beginning to unleash their cash hoards totaling billions of dollars. Episode 345 of Lodging Leaders podcast explores the state of capital investment in the hotel industry.